U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Tuesday that the U.S. will no longer adhere to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty while Russia, China and others are not limited by the same agreement.
“Russia’s been flight-testing the SSC-8 cruise missile since the mid-2000s. They’ve been testing it in excess of ranges that the treaty permits,” Pompeo said at a NATO press event. “It makes no sense for the United States to remain in a treaty that constrains our ability to respond to Russia’s violations.”
“Our nations have a choice,” he added. “We either bury our head in the sand or we take common-sense action in response to Russia’s flagrant disregard for the express terms of the INF Treaty,” he added.
The United States has remained in compliance with the treaty and, on at least 30 occasions since 2013, raised Russia’s noncompliance and stressed that a failure to return to compliance would have consequences.
“Russia’s reply has been consistent: deny any wrongdoing, demand more information, and issue baseless counter-accusations,” Pompeo said.
For more than four years, Moscow has pretended that it didn’t know what missile or test the United States was even referring to even when extensive information about the missile’s characteristics and testing history were provided. When the U.S. publicized the Russian name of the missile in November of 2017, Russia finally acknowledged its existence, but changed its cover story from ‘the missile does not exist’ to ‘the missile exists, but is treaty-compliant.’
“In light of these facts, the United States today declares it has found Russia in material breach of the treaty and will suspend our obligations as a remedy effective in 60 days unless Russia returns to full and verifiable compliance,” Pompeo announced.
Pompeo said that, “while Russia is responsible for the demise of the treaty, many other states – including China, North Korea, and Iran – are not parties to the INF Treaty. This leaves them free to build all the intermediate range missiles that they would like.”
“There is no reason the United States should continue to cede this crucial military advantage to revisionist powers like China, in particular when these weapons are being used to threaten and coerce the United States and its allies in Asia,” he added.
Adding China or other countries into the INF Treaty has been tried three times without any success and between Russia and China’s production of treat-busting missiles, the United States will no longer be the only one constrained by it.
“Inertia will not drive policy in the Trump administration,” he said. “As President Trump has made clear and as I spoke about this morning, the United States will not support international agreements that undermine our security, our interests, or our values.”
NATO expressed strong support for the United States’ decision in a statement released Tuesday.